Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free Audio-Books Online

Please read my post on "Why Audio-books are Important" to understand why you should implement them into your child's daily life.

There are many resources online and I think the internet is probably now one of the greatest tools for learning and teaching.  I was pleased when I found Storynory last week.  It is a website with free audio-books and stories for children. 

If you are familiar with iTunes, they are now available on there to download for free onto your ipod so your child can take them with them wherever they go. 

Writing Instruction

I had taught my daughter to write before I taught her to read. I didn't know it was supposed to be the other way around until a few months ago.  I had went by public school guidelines and that was a mistake!  The child really should start learning to read at 4 years old, or for slower children, at 5.  Writing should come later as reading should be the main concentration.  It's too late to go back and change that now so I'm going ahead with formal writing instruction.

I bought a dry erase board for my daughter a few years ago and she still loves it!  She thinks its fun to write her letters and numbers and erase them and write them again.  She sometimes begs to take it in the car as well.  I highly recommend it and it comes with other boards all in one and they have one for cursive writing as well. I'm an advocate for not teaching cursive until the middle of 2nd grade because I believe the child needs a good foundation in manuscript first.  Update - read my post on our early start with cursive and the problems with it.

You can buy the dry erase board at Walmart and its made by Board Dudes and here is a picture from their website:

The first week I made sure my daughter's letters were written correctly (top to bottom, left to right, etc) and found that she had been writing several letters incorrectly.  You may say "so what?" but what you don't understand is if you don't catch writing errors early and change them, it will cause the child problems later on, especially when they learn cursive handwriting!  So we took a week and went slowly teaching each letter again - capital and lowercase - on a dry erase board and then she copied them correctly on a handwriting page (see photo below).

A word of advice to those who may have children who are not writing yet - DO NOT use those "fat" kindergarten pencils!  They claim they help the child 'ease' into holding a pencil and slowly increasing their fine motor skill in writing BUT I believe it actually halts the process and is unnecessary.  Rather, give them normal no. 2 pencils from the beginning and they will be able to write faster and their hand will be stronger. 

I'm so glad that I checked her letters and found the errors and taught her to fix them NOW instead of later.  She still makes the occasional error but quickly remembers and erases and writes it correctly.

We are in the third week of "The Complete Writer" and we have been enjoying it!  I would recommend it to everyone because not only is your child learning to write sentences but they are also writing sentences from good literature; the classics!  For instance, the first week (see photo below) it was implementing sentences from "Little House in the Big Woods".  Not only did my daughter do copywork of sentences from the book, some days it was reading an excerpt from the book and then having her narrate and tell me what she remembered from the book.


She also is learning that sentences always begin with a capital letter and right now is learning those that end with a period. Not only that, but in grammar we are learning about nouns, common and proper, and she now understands that people (proper nouns) always begin with a capital letter and that has been implemented even in her writing book.

Why Audio-books Are Important

If your child has problems concentrating or paying attention while you are reading or teaching - it could be because you have never taught them these skills.  Watching videos will not bring about greater concentration because the child is watching images while hearing the story line and that doesn't cause the brain much work at all.  Videos ARE useful tools for teaching but in moderation.

This is where audio-books come in.  The child learns to listen to the story without visuals.  The child learns to use their imagination.  They learn that if they don't give the audio their full attention they will miss important parts of the story.  It causes the brain to work harder than if the images had been given to them, and this in turn, will produce a well attentive child.

Children's attention spans are shorter than adults but you can lengthen them with repetitive teaching of skills needed for listening.

Here is how you can implement audio-books:
  • Play audio-books while child is playing in room or doing chores or some other activity
  • Play audio-books in the car
For problems with children sitting still, you can start with 5 minutes a day, making the child sit in a chair and listen to the audio-book without doing anything else.  When the 5 minutes is up - allow the child to play while continuing the audio-book.  Increase the time in the chair by one minute every so often.  You will find that your child will also be able to sit still in church and homeschool.  After all, it's up to YOU to train the skills they don't know for listening and being still.

We try and get audio-books that are above our daughter's reading level and are good literature as well.  Children are like sponges and can soak up whatever you put in and will be able to recall it later on.  For your child to have a large vocabulary - you must put it in and audio-books are a great way to do that!


Classical Education involves a lot of memorization for good reasons - not only will your child learn the art of memorizing but they will be able to draw upon their memory in the future in different ways.  Also, when your child recites the item they memorized to others, they are practicing presentation and public speaking.

For our daughter we follow this method for memorization:
  1. Read the item several times to child slowly
  2. Have child "repeat after me" - dividing into small sections at first and building on that
  3. Record yourself reciting the item and let child listen to it periodically throughout the day/week
  4. Ask the child to recite the item daily 
  5. When child feels capable, have them test it on their first audience - stuffed animals or dolls
  6. Once child can successfully recite as above, have child recite item to you and family members
  7. Record child recitation
  8. Have child recite item in front of others besides family

When the child is reciting, they should be still with hands to the side and looking at their audience.  Also, teach them to be enthusiastic and put feeling and life into the words of the item!  I do this with my daughter and she has bettered her skill of expression.

For 1st Grade, we are memorizing KJV Bible verses, poems from grammar in "First Language Lessons" along with various lists in history, science, etc.

Below is a free book download online that includes ideas for memorization in the Grammar stage of Classical Education.


Remember - make it fun!  Get excited and your child will follow suit!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Teaching Creation

For our first week this year we taught the story of creation.  I used the order of teaching Bible that I had shared in the previous post, Teaching Bible to Children.  For questions, I ask ones that I came up with and those available in the curriculum we are using as a guide - Memoria Press' Christian Studies 1.

  1. Read creation story from KJV - Genesis 1:1-2:3; ask questions
  2. Learn and sing creation song daily
  3. Read creation story from Golden Children's Bible - p.14-15; ask questions
  4. Watch creation videos
  5. Crafts, worksheets and mini-book on creation

The last worksheet was from "Considering God's Creation" which is a Christian-based science we are using as a supplement.  It also includes the lyrics of the creation song that we sang daily.  The song is on the cd, which is included in "Considering God's Creation" teacher's guide.   Here is another creation song for free online.

Here is a worksheet to match the day of creation with what was created that day.  More creation crafts, worksheets and games can be at that link and also found here.

The mini-book we used above can be downloaded for free here.  There is also another, larger, mini-book that you can download for free here.

Videos on creation are below. Be careful which creation videos you pick on YouTube because some are based on other religions or pose as creation stories but actually mock it.

We stopped the first video at 6:18 because my daughter was confused that there was a lot of people - she asked where is Adam and Eve lol.

We also watched "The Beginner's Bible" creation video.  You can find a free printable coloring book here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Teaching Bible to Children

This is how we teach Bible to our 5yr old daughter:
  1. Day 1 - read the story from the King James Version and ask questions
  2. Day 2 - read the story from the Golden Children's Bible and review questions
  3. Day 3 - watch a video of the story and/or do a craft
  4. Daily - sing song related to Bible story
We also add in worksheets/color pages and/or minibooks about the story.  Sometimes if the story is long,  we split it up and concentrate on the first part the first 3 days and then go to the second part the next 3 days.  We have found this to be successful!

We are using an excellent guide that utilizes the Golden Children's Bible - Memoria Press' Christian StudiesI don't see a need for the student workbook until your child can read and write.  The teacher's guide has been enough for me and it gives snapshots of the student workbook page that has the questions.  It also has the child find the area on the ancient map and modern day globe.

The Christian Studies are aimed at 3rd grade and above but I have been able to use it with my daughter because she has a good foundation in the Bible stories.  For years we read from "The Beginner's Bible" and she still loves to look through it and as soon as she sees the pictures she can tell me what the story is about.  When she improves her reading - it will be a great first Bible reader as well!

Image credit: ChristArt

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Caterpillar; Video and Drawing

We are doing First Language Lessons Level 1 this year and this past week we did the first 3 lessons. The 2nd lesson was to memorize the poem, "The Caterpillar". I said it several times to my daughter and had her join in. Then I recorded myself saying the poem 3 times on a tape, which K listened to several times since Tuesday. Today she told me she wanted to say the poem from memory. I made her practice in front of her stuffed animals first and then we recorded it. She had no help from me, just all from her memory! I'm so proud of her and it gave her self confidence and made her realize she can do anything she puts her mind to!

After hearing the poem read she drew her "narration" of what the poem said. I added what she told me each picture was about in black. (click to enlarge)

Homeschool Room Photos

Updated:  See our updated homeschool room here.

Before, it was just the table and the curtains - now you can see what we have added (dollar store charts), dry erase board, easel (IKEA) and some bookshelves.

Art, Music, Home Economics & Spanish

Below are our electives for this year.  Besides Music, they are only done once a week, with Music twice a week.

Art - we are using "Artistic Pursuits: K-3 Book One, An Introduction to the Visual Arts"  I came across this program before I even saw it was recommended in "The Well Trained Mind".  I had looked at several other art programs and was frustrated at the simplicity of them - having a child cut a picture from a paper and glue it and then color it, to me just isn't true art.  I wanted something that taught Art and gave a great knowledge of just what Art is and I have found it!  Book One even includes Ancient Art (making a Greek pot) and that will go along with our History of the Ancient times.  We plan on only doing Art once a week but if she shows a great interest, then we can do it twice.

Music - my daughter wants to learn to play the violin.  However, the instructors in our area say the child must be 7 before they can begin lessons, so since she is only 5 (6 next month), we will have to wait.  I wanted her to begin learning to play something - so we chose to start the piano this year and see how she likes it.  We are going to use "John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano; First Grade Book".  She will also learn to play the recorder and we got one with a beginner's book and that will probably be the easiest for her to start with.

I've already began teaching about Composers with Beethoven and we are using "Stories of the Great Composers, Book 1 & CD". I also want something that teaches what rhythm, melody, etc are but haven't found the program I'm looking for yet. 

Home Economics - I have taught my daughter some of Home Economics already with her being with me in the Kitchen, etc.  However, I wanted something that laid it out for me, easy for her to understand and I found it.  I'm using Pearables "Home Economics Level One".  It looks like a good basis and geared towards her age.  It is also done by an older lady sharing her nuggets of wisdom.

Spanish - My daughter already knows a lot of words in Spanish and how to count from 1-10 in Spanish but I wanted to start her in something this year that would be fun and not necessarily a complete curriculum since she already has a full year.  We are going to use "Spanish 1A" cd-rom and see how it goes.  It will be something that is part of her "Computer Time" but also fun for her as well.  We aren't going to start it until the middle of the year so she can concentrate on phonics for the next 6 months and get a good solid base in reading. 

Image credits: Christian book, RR

Math & Science

Math was probably my worst subject and one I still detest! However, my daughter is very good at Math and probably will do the second grade level if we see she is progressing quickly with the first. She walks around the house counting things - doing addition and subtraction in her head, counting money and quizzing me on different problems. I knew something was up when last year she started counting from 1-200 in the car a lot and wanting us to join in. She even got my Mom to do it a few times over the phone hehe.

I attended public school in elementary and middle school years and then part of my high school years. Two years of high school were spent in a private, Christian school of which they used Saxon math. It left such a good taste in my mouth that I knew when I had a child, I wanted them to do Saxon math! I had realized how BEHIND public school education was when I attended the Christian school - especially math. The dumbing-down of public education is also another reason we homeschool - also the fact they won't let my daughter skip a grade, whereas in homeschooling - you go at the child's pace.

So that is why we chose Saxon math for our daughter. We are using Saxon Math 1 with the manipulatives and will skip lessons my daughter is already skilled at and possibly start Saxon Math 2 towards the end of the year.

Math is something that you don't just do as book work and then that's it. You teach your child to integrate it into daily life with counting money, purchases at the store, weighing fruits and vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store to weights and measurements in the kitchen cooking. We were at the post office 2 weeks ago waiting in line and my daughter says to me "Mom, look! The floor has rectangles!" I looked down and saw that the tiling on the floor was indeed rectangle-shaped lol. Also, another humorous account was at the library with a Sister last week when my daughter says to me "Mommy, you are sitting in a U-shaped chair!" Don't you just love it seeing your child learn?? I DO!! How fulfilling is it to know that YOU taught them? How grateful I am to have this opportunity and I thank God also for this.

I knew what I wanted to use for Science and it didn't necessarily go along with the History as "The Well Trained Mind" suggested but nevertheless, I'm still going the route I chose.

If you haven't heard of Apologia Science, let me introduce you! It is Christian-based and from the reviews it is one of the best. I wanted a strictly Christian-based science for my daughter because there is just so much in science that is taught incorrectly in public education and even a lot of homeschool curriculum. I want her to understand and know the Mighty Creator of the Universe and to see His hands in the beauty of creation! This strong foundation will give her the tools needed to prepare her for the opposing view (Evolution) later in life. Her mind will have been conditioned to not just look at a tree and its parts, but to also see God's hand in the intricate details of His creation! You should watch your child is learning in this subject as most secular educators leave out the mighty Creator altogether and thus - science is left incomplete. You are responsible for what they learn, whether or not you are the one teaching them! God will not leave you unaccountable.

Knowing I was using Apologia's elementary science, I had to determine what one we would start with. I let my daughter choose and she chose Apologia Astronomy. She loves looking at the stars at night and is fascinated by them and I bought her the solar system to hang from her ceiling, along with a stars and the moon glow-in-the-dark set! We also have a globe that with a flick of the switch turns into the constellations.

There are projects with the Apologia Astronomy and one includes making your own solar system - a hands-on approach that I love. Along with other other projects that will give her a greater understanding of God's mighty universe!

We are supplementing the Apologia Astronomy with "Considering God's Creation". This again, is another hands-on, Christian-based science and comes with a CD that has songs and poems.

Image credit: Google images, Christian Book

History, Geography & Social Studies

History was my best subject in school. I still love it and can't wait to teach it!! : ) The traditional approach in public education is to teach facts from here and there and everywhere and there is generally no chronological order to the whole mess! With Classical Education, there is order (after all, isn't God a God of order? hehe). History is taught in chronological order from Ancient times to Modern times in just 4 years and then it is repeated twice afterward allowing the child to receive the entire history of the world 3 times by the time they graduate High School! I fell in love with this approach right away and it was just what I was looking for! You can read an article about the classical approach to History here.

Here is the 4-year layout of History:

Ancients, BC 5000-400 AD
Medieval/Early Renaissance, 400-1600
Late Renaissance/Early Modern, 1600-1850
Modern Times, 1850-Present

We are using "The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume I Ancient Times; From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor". We are also using the activity book and audio.

You may be saying what about Geography and Social Studies? So glad you asked! Not only is she getting a wonderful order of History, she will be learning Geography and Social Studies throughout the learning of History! From studying ancient maps and finding out just where what we studied in History is, she will also be learning their culture (Social Studies) of each time period throughout History. What better way to teach these subjects but all together?

I love the hands on application of the maps and we are using Knowledge Qwest's Blackline Maps of Ancient Times that go right along with "The Story of the World 1". My daughter has a great interest in maps and has had for a few years now. She learned what maps where from Dora lol. Since then she loves pretending she has a map and when we went to the Zoo and they gave us a map - she was thrilled with excitement to have a MAP!! She enjoys the maps in the Bible as well and loves looking at the routes that Abraham and different men of the Bible traveled. We are also using a Globe that includes astronomy/constellations at the flick of a switch.

As we go along in History, we will also be reading books from the library on the topics which we are studying that week. We also will be using our Usborne Encyclopedia of World History for further study. Narration will involve her telling me what we read in History in her own words, of which I will write down in a notebook. She will be memorizing various facts as well - such as the Pharaohs, Kings of Rome, Egyptian dynasties, etc.

Image credits: Amazon, Christian Book

Grammar & Writing

Grammar and Writing (Reading as well) is a big part of a Classical Education.  I didn't have what I consider to be a good foundation in grammar until High School.  I really like the approach with a Classical Education and the solid education a child receives from this method.  It fits me well and believe it will also fit my daughter's learning style.  Not only will she get a good foundation in grammar and writing - but my grammar needs a bit (ok a lot lol) of touching up!!

For Grammar we are using "First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind" (Levels 1&2).  The book combines both first and second grade into one book.  The lessons are only 5-15 minutes long.  She will not only learn grammar, but memorize poems and practice narration and eventually dictation.

For Writing we are using "The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease" (Level 1).  She will be doing copywork and narration and I love the fact that it includes writings from the classics.  As it states it helps "young writers to practice their skills while absorbing the style and grace of great authors."

Narration can also be placed under Reading but I included it here because eventually it will be her own writing.  Narration is simply reading something and having the child tell you about it (older kids can write down their narration) and writing down the narration.  It not only helps them with comprehension and writing skills but paraphrasing as well!

Image credit: Christian Book

Reading & Spelling

I have used other reading programs that have shown to be very slow in the coming and just didn't work for my daughter (they actually made her very frustrated).  I tried a different approach and found success so far with it and my daughter can now read Bob books - slowly, but it will improve with increased phonics learning.  Reading is probably the biggest subject (as far as material covered) that we will do this year. 

Our phonics reading program is "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading".  We plan on doing 2 lessons a day to get caught up on the program by the middle of the school year.

She will be learning spelling as we go along in the book and by the middle of the school year, we will start a spelling program from Modern Curriculum Press Spelling Workout A. When she has finished this, we will continue on with "Spelling Workout B".

For readers, we are using Bob Books Sets 1-5, Abeka Little books and Little Owl books and Christian Light's 1st Grade Reader "I Wonder".

Read alouds
will be not only stories from Bible class and History, but we are supplementing with books that go along with what she is learning in History; ancient times, Egyptian topics, etc.  My husband will be reading her the complete Chronicles of Narnia book series with her.  I also have some audiobook classics & KJV audio that I started playing when she is doing crafts, playing or cleaning in her room.

For extra read alouds, I will be reading a few of Rod and Staff's little jewel books: Helping Mother, God Gave us Father and Mother, Molly Helps Mother, God Loves Me, and God's Happy Family.

Image credits: Amazon, CB, R&S, Abeka


My daughter has already been through her beginner Bible "The Beginner's Bible" several times over the past 2 1/2 years, so she knows a good general basis for the Bible stories. I loved this Bible for small children because it also gives the scripture passage for each story so you can read it from the KJV along with the short Bible story!

She also has watched a series of Bible stories in video form and that greatly helped her take what she knew from hearing the stories read and then seeing them.  Then of course, there is Children's Church classes at church 4 times a week for about 1-1 1/2 hours.  Knowing she has Godly teachers teaching her Bible each week is a blessing!  I would have to say she knows way more Bible then I ever did at 5!  Although I was a Pastor's daughter - we only had Sunday school 1 time a week and then I didn't really get any Bible lessons at home. 

This year, I wanted something more concrete and with questions and maps (she LOVES maps).  I researched and found that a lot of Bible curriculum out there was meant to be done only once a week and the lessons were so simple that it would take a lot of work on my part to expand each one to last a week.

I finally happened upon Memoria Press' Christian Studies.  After reading reviews and looking at samples - I've chosen this for her Bible curriculum this year.  The lessons are in-depth enough to last a week - so it will take us through the first year.  I was worried about it being too advanced for her, but I read reviews of those that have used Level 1 for 5-6 yr olds with success and with my daughter already having a great foundation - I believe it is the one for us. 

The curriculum is used along with "The Golden Children's Bible" which we already own!  I bought the Bible a few years ago for myself, so don't have to purchase it.  We are very confident in this decision and I will do a review of the curriculum (if time permits) at the end of the school year. 

She does Bible crafts in Children's Church, so I didn't see a need to include that.  However, I did see "Bible Crafts for Christian Kids" and if I feel she wants more Art during the week, I will purchase this. 

We will start each school day with prayer and a song to the Lord. She already has loads of bible song cds and tapes, so we will utilize those. For scripture memorization, we are using Scripture Songs I - which is KJV only.

Character studies are done as a day-to-day life implementation.  We will be using the Duggar's character chart and learn one character trait a month.  That I believe is the best way to teach character - in real life situations.  

That completes our Bible course plans for this year!  It will be the first and most important subject we start with each day.  If you put God FIRST - everything else will fall into place!

Image credits: Christian Book; Amazon


Cambridgeshire Academy is our family's homeschool.  We chose the name "Cambridgeshire" because it was the first known record of our family last name.

My daughter is the only child we have and she is a Kindergartner doing 1st Grade work.  I wanted a place that I could share her work and talk about our homeschool projects - so I created this blog for that purpose!  I also wanted to share awesome resources that we use, or will use in the future, for others who may be looking for good recommendations! :)